The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey in close partnership with the UN Development Programme and UN Women have organized a three-day forum to present the customary land recording and bylaw development processes.
The forum had participants from government agencies, private sector, development partners, state owned enterprises and customary landholding groups.
The Land Forum brought together relevant stakeholders to establish common understanding and agree on general principles and guidelines and standards for making the customary land recording available and accessible for inclusive and sustainable development.
The Forum focused on unlocking the business potential for recorded customary lands through bridging and initiating the dialogue between the customary landholding groups and a private small and medium enterprises in the country.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Land Forum, Hon. Ismael Mali Avui, Minister of Lands, Housing and Survey, described the land recording’s role as “securing and strengthening customary land rights of customary landholding groups.”
“Land recording plays a pivotal role in empowering people and building sustainable peace in Solomon Islands’ communities. We are grateful to partner with UNDP, donors and other development partners to bridge the gaps between customary landholding groups and record their customary land rights under the law,” Hon. Ismael Mali Avui said.
In his welcoming remarks, Hon. Samuel Manetoali, Minister of Traditional Governance, Peace and Ecclesiastical Affairs, highlighted the importance of the close connection between land and peace in communities, “The concepts of community security and social cohesion are mutually reinforcing. It is vital to secure the tribe’s land and natural resources – the foundation of local livelihoods and the primary spiritual link with nature. Without land security, there is no future for peasant landholding groups.”
Dr Cedric Alependava, Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, commended the joint efforts to make the land recoding a more women and youth inclusive process. “I would like to convey my sincere appreciation for all the efforts that have been carried out. Women’s and youth empowerment are pre-conditions for peacebuilding and are essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Insecure land rights create obstacles for women engaging in farming and other agricultural activities, in starting and running a home-based enterprise, and, as we’ve observed, in accessing safe and decent housing.”
Mr. Berdi Berdiyev, UNDP Country Manager in Solomon Islands, acknowledged that “land rights and land management have multiple dimensions that are key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.”
Mr. Berdiyev also pointed out that “unregulated and undocumented access to land resources causes disenfranchisement of certain groups and leads to conflict within communities and landholding groups”, while customary land recording “allows landholding groups to identify economic and livelihood opportunities.”
The Land Forum was organized by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey in partnership with UNDP and UN Women with financial support from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund. It allowed to present how the customary recorded land can be integrated into the development process.